How To Reduce Your Exposure To Phthalates


What Are Phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals that are used in a wide range of products. These compounds are used to increase the flexibility of plastics and also act as binding agents, emulsifiers, lubricants, dispersants, and suspending agents. Phthalates are found everywhere…

  • Personal care products like shampoo, soaps, perfumes, moisturizers, hairspray, and deodorant
  • Cosmetics and nail polish 
  • Shower curtains
  • Garden hoses
  • Vinyl upholstery and vinyl flooring 
  • Adhesives and glues
  • Food containers and wrappers
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Air fresheners 
  • Children's toys
  • Medical devices 
  • Cleaning solutions 

How Phthalates Can Impact Your Health

Although the health impacts of phthalate exposure are not yet fully understood, several phthalates are known endocrine disrupters. Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system, producing adverse developmental, reproductive neurological, and immune effects in humans. Research has shown that some phthalates mimic or partially mimic and displace hormones in the body like estrogens, androgens, and thyroid hormones. Endocrine disrupters can also interfere with the way hormones and hormone receptors are made or controlled. Endocrine disrupters have been linked to adverse health effects like reduced fertility, abnormal sexual development, promotion of obesity and metabolic disease, and an increased risk of endometriosis and certain cancers. BPA and DEHP are two phthalates that are known to act as endocrine disrupters in the body. 

How To Limit Your Exposure To Phthalates

Although it is nearly impossible to avoid all exposure to phthalates, there are ways to limit your exposure.

  1. Limit your use of plastics: Purchase glass food storage containers and use this amazing product instead of plastic wrap. Use glass or stainless steel water bottles. 
  2. Stay away from fast food: High fat foods are more susceptible to chemical leaching and the packaging and processing of fast foods leads to higher levels of phthalates. Check out this study for more information.
  3. Only purchase canned food with a "BPA FREE" label:  Canned foods are a major source of phthalate exposure. Click here for more info.
  4. Stay away from scented products:  If a product lists "fragrance" or "parfum" on the label, there is a good chance that is contains phthalates. Here is a list natural air fresheners. 
  5. Research your cosmetics and personal care products thoroughly: Phthalates are just group of  of the many chemicals found in cosmetics and personal care products. Replace your old products with new, more natural ones. Check out The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to find healthy, humane beauty products.
  6. Reduce your children's exposure: to phthalates and other chemicals by choosing non-toxic and sustainable products and toys. This website has a great selection.
  7. Choose organic when possible: Phthalates are used in pesticides and choosing organic foods can reduce your exposure. Check out this study on the subject.  
  8. Make your own cleaning products: Many popular cleaning products contain harmful chemicals.  Here are some great recipes for homemade, safe cleaners. 

The health effects of phthalate exposure are still largely unknown and research is ongoing. Here are some great resources for those who wish to learn more about the subject.